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Mike Dolce said a deeper, larger conversation around weight-cutting in MMA is probably imminent. But unless we start soon, it just might happen for the wrong reasons.
The ugly sides of severe weight cuts seem to manifest themselves in different ways each week. Just this past Friday, reporters and officials saw UFC flyweight Deiveson Figueiredo actually cry on his way to the scale before making the 126-pound limit. Lightweight Kevin Lee made no excuses for his recent loss to Tony Ferguson in an interim title affair, but talked about how his publicly tough cut “damn near killed” him.
Examples abound, but perhaps the most striking recent one was that of Sam Alvey (31-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC). By taking a UFC Fight Night 118 fight on 10 days’ notice, the middleweight also agreed to a more than 40-pound cut. He missed by three pounds – and the next day lost to Ramazan Emeev after an apathetic display.
For Dolce, a former MMA fighter and current nutrition specialist who’s helped his fair share of UFC athletes to the scale, Alvey is an example of what happens when fighters who are so far off their division marks take on short-notice calls.
“This is where people get hurt,” Dolce told MMAjunkie Radio. “This is what brings a black eye to the sport.”
If on the one hand there’s an effort to bring in qualified professionals to ensure proper cuts, Dolce said, he wonders where the UFC’s great team of specialists was when it was time to advise on Alvey. Especially considering that, in this time frame and with air-travel included, the weight loss would mostly happen via dehydration.
“So this young man is going to dehydrate himself 30-plus pounds in under 10 days and then have that baseball bat swung in his skull for 15 minutes,” Dolce said. “How is this a good idea?”
More than pointing fingers, Dolce said, there’s a learning opportunity here. But that would mean taking measures much beyond the “bureaucracy and red tape” of the 10-point plan approved by the California State Athletic Commission in May.
“The onus must be on the athlete,” Dolce said. “If there was a penalty to Sam – ‘Hey, Sam, we want to give you a fight in 10 days, on another continent. You’re 40 pounds over right now. Whatever. That’s your responsibility. But if you miss weight, we’re going to fine you 50 percent of your purse, and we’re going to suspend you for six months – if you miss weight within three pounds. If you miss weight for over three pounds, you are immediately pulled from the card and then that ban is a 12-month ban.’
“Will Sam Alvey – will any fighter – then take that fight? It’s actually protecting fighters from their own toughness.”
Dolce elaborated on his issues with the 10-point plan, which he said can be easily bypassed by fighters.
“Specific (urine) gravity testing? So easy to beat,” Dolce said. “Thirteen-year-olds in Iowa beat that every single season. The 30-day, the 10-day (weight check) – athletes hack that. I know the athletes right now are hacking that at California, laughing at California while they have their game in their scales. It’s silly. All this red tape is silly.”
Another issue that Dolce takes with the plan is the “suspect” limit of 10 percent of their body mass that any given fighter is allowed to have gained back by fight night. That type of measure, Dolce said, should be analyzed on an individual basis – or it will only discourage fighters to rehydrate properly.
“How is that in the interest of the athletes’ health and safety?” Dolce said. “What science actually says that you can’t hydrate more than 10 percent or you’re unhealthy? Because all the science points to adequate hydration, with no specific percentage and no specific cap.”
What can be done to change things, though? For Dolce, first there needs to be a general mobilization around the seriousness of the issue. Which includes the media. Right now, he said, headlines alerting to the dangers of weight cuts are sparsely thrown around and quickly drowned out in the noise as the MMA world moves on.
That can start with people actually paying attention when fighters like Lee, Cris Cyborg, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Anthony Pettis talk about how their harrowing cuts felt like near-death experiences.
“Does anybody listen to this?” Dolce said. “Is anybody paying attention to this? And what is being done about it other than a few articles showing up on a few websites and then it disappears? Then the industry just moves on.
“It’s like the industry is just waiting for the worst-case scenario to happen before there’s a cultural change.”
For Dolce, in order to ensure safety, harsher penalties should be placed upon fighters. They should also be expected to be in shape for 52 weeks of the year. And, as a general rule, he said they should always be physically able to take any fight on six weeks’ notice.
If in a case like Alvey’s something ends up going terribly wrong, Dolce ponders, who’s to blame? Cases can be argued for the the promotion, for the local athletic commission or even for the management team. Ultimately, though, it’s the fighter who’ll bear the consequences.
“But is there any other contributory element to that?” Dolce said. “That’s a much deeper larger conversation that can be had. And probably will be had for the wrong reasons within the next few years if we don’t do something about it.”
To hear more from Dolce, check out the video above.
And for more on the upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie